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After completing 50 years of coaching, Tahil Ali is still… Hungry for more!

Updated on: 24 February,2024 10:14 AM IST  |  Mumbai
SUNDARII IYER | sundari.iyer@mid-day.com

To celebrate the momentous occasion, Ali’s students will have a function at the PJ Hindu Gymkhana on Saturday evening where he will be sharing fond memories of his coaching journey of 50 years

After completing 50 years of coaching, Tahil Ali is still… Hungry for more!

Tennis coach Tahir Ali

From aspiring to be a coach way back in 1974, to training players for over five decades, Tahir Ali has come a long way. Ali, 73, says he does not wish to stop, but continues doing what he loves—coaching— till his last breath. To celebrate the momentous occasion, Ali’s students will have a function at the PJ Hindu Gymkhana on Saturday evening where he will be sharing fond memories of his coaching journey of 50 years. A day before the function, when www.mid-day asked what the milestone means to him, he replied: “I cannot believe that I survived for so long. It’s really been a great, satisfying journey of 50 years. When I look back, I feel that when most of the players wanted to turn pro, I wanted to be a coach at the age of 22-23 since my father Sayed and my cousins including Akhtar Ali were into coaching. It was in 1974 when I passed out from Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports [NSNIS] in Patiala. I’ve enjoyed my stints at MSLTA, Cooperage [14 years], Cricket Club of India [28 years], Willingdon Sports Club and also the mentor at the PJ Hindu Gymkhana.”


Ali, who started his tennis journey in his hometown Kolkata in the 60s, is a renowned coach in Mumbai. His wards include Davis Cuppers Asif Ismail, Mark Ferriera and Gaurav Natekar. Of the many national champions he coached, Hari Aiyar, Nasreen Shujatalli and Divya Merchant remain a few he could recall. Ali’s most prominent student though has been Bollywood actor Aamir Khan, whom he trained when he joined the MSLTA Scheme at Bandra Gymkhana. The Lagaan actor was the Bombay inter-school under-14 tennis champion.


Interestingly, in 2013, Khan was present at CCI when the club felicitated Ali on completion of 25 years of service as a coach. Though Ali has not been in touch with Aamir for the past three-four years, Ali hailed his tennis acumen. “I know Aamir as a very good tennis player before he went on to become a fine actor. Aamir is a big personality and keeps changing his numbers. He called me three years ago to ask permission to use my picture on social media. Though we are not in touch on a regular basis, he finds a way to contact me whenever he gets the time. He respects me a lot. What more can I ask for,” said Ali, who actively plays in the senior Masters tournaments and has won many national and international titles in singles and doubles.


Meanwhile, the tennis Ali started playing with a wooden racquet, is not anymore slow. “Since the introduction of graphite racquets and technology, the sport is a very fast-paced game of power. It is no longer a slow game. Back in our days when there were wooden racquets, the volleys were not what they are today,” he signed off. 

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